The Vatican is stepping up efforts to increase its financial transparency and prevent money laundering amid regulatory pressure for compliance with international standards.
Last year saw ’’a significant strengthening of the legal and institutional framework of the Holy See and Vatican City State to effectively combat financial crime,’’ the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority, or FIA, said in a summary of its annual report published today.
The Vatican agency last year recorded an increase in suspicious transaction reports to 202 from 6 in 2012. The increase is because of “a greater awareness” of potential criminal activities, the authority’s director, Rene Bruelhart, told reporters in Rome. Five of last year’s reports were passed on to Vatican judicial authorities for further investigations, according to today’s report.
The Vatican bank, which was set up in 1942, oversees about 7.1 billion euros ($9.7 billion) in assets. A former accountant at the Vatican was arrested last June for plotting to cross the Swiss-Italian Border with 20 million euros. That probe caused a shakeup at the bank, known as the Institute for Works of Religion.
Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s monitoring body for money laundering and terrorism financing, said in December the Vatican had made progress in improving financial transparency, though it still needed to carry out more internal controls.
The watchdog recommended more checks be carried out by the FIA, and said staff should be more experienced and better trained. The fact that the Vatican bank and the Holy See’s administrative body, APSA, hadn’t been subject to formal inspections was “surprising,” Moneyval said at the time.
The first inspection conducted by the FIA in the first quarter of this year showed the bank had made ’’substantial progress,’’ Bruelhart said. Another inspection will be done next year, he said.
© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.